Trump Vows to Appeal March 4 Trial Date for Federal Elections Case

WASHINGTON—Federal Judge Tanya Chutkan has set the trial date for the case dealing with former President Donald Trump’s efforts to challenge the 2020 election results for March 4, 2024.

She declared that both trial dates offered by the former president’s lawyers and special counsel Jack Smith were unacceptable, though her decision put the date just two months beyond what Mr. Smith proposed and more than tow years ahead of what the defense wanted.

She said she took into account other trials that President Trump is facing, but wouldn’t consider his personal or professional circumstances, i.e., the campaign schedule of his 2024 presidential run.

President Trump later blasted the decision as “election interference” in a statement, vowing to bring up the issue with the D.C. Circuit Appeals Court.

“Today a biased, Trump Hating Judge gave me only a two month extension, just what our corrupt government wanted, SUPER TUESDAY. I will APPEAL!” he wrote on his Truth Social platform.

Mr. Smith on Aug. 1 brought four charges against the former president, including a conspiracy to obstruct the collection and counting of electoral votes as well as a conspiracy against Americans’ right to vote.

The indictment relies on the assumption that President Trump didn’t genuinely believe that the election victory was unlawfully taken from him and that his attempts to challenge the results were unlawful.

The timing of the trial bears political implications. President Trump may have an interest in delaying it beyond the election, while his opponents would like to see him sentenced during election season. The date selected by the judge happens to be one day before the “Super Tuesday” slew of primary elections in 16 states.

Mr. Smith previously asked for a January 2024 trial date with jury selection as early as Dec. 11. The defense proposed April 2026.

The case appears to be exceptionally complex. As part of the discovery process, the prosecutors are almost done handing over to the defense some 12.8 million documents and files, federal prosecutor Molly Gaston said during the hearing.

She noted that more than 60 percent of the discovery came from entities affiliated with the former president, the implication being that the defense doesn’t need to review all the material because it might have seen some of it previously.

President Trump’s lawyer John Lauro called such a line of reasoning “ridiculous,” accusing the prosecutors of trying to turn the case into a “show trial.”

It was “absurd,” he said, for the prosecutors to suggest that he could review the discovery in just four months.

The judge retorted that the former president has resources available that other defendants don’t, but she didn’t explain what resources or why he should be forced to expend them if other defendants aren’t.

She pointed out that lawyers would be reviewing available materials even before the charges were brought.

There will be a number of pre-trial legal issues that will need to be litigated, including subpoenas and some questions regarding Mr. Smith’s novel use of criminal law, Mr. Lauro said.

NTD Photo
Attorneys for former President Donald Trump, Todd Blanche (L), and John Lauro (R) leave the E. Barrett Prettyman federal courthouse in Washington on Aug. 28, 2023. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)

The judge laughed at his comment that he would be standing before her to argue those issues many times before the trial.

Ms. Gaston noted that President Trump and his lawyers have made public comments regarding the case as well as the work of the congressional Jan. 6 Committee. The defense can’t claim that its research started from scratch on the day of the indictment, she suggested, arguing that there’s a strong public interest in speedy resolution of the case.

The former president’s social media posts, she said, could prejudice the jury pool.

President Trump is already facing a May 2024 trial in another case brought by Mr. Smith in Florida that deals with his retention of national defense documents from his term in office. Another trial, scheduled for March 2024 in New York, relates to alleged false bookkeeping entries. Yet another trial is in the works in Georgia, also targeting the former president’s efforts to challenge the 2020 election results. The date hasn’t been set, but the prosecutor, District Attorney Fani Willis, first proposed March 2024 and then October 2023 when one of the co-defendants asked for a speedy trial. A number of lawyers have opined that even the March 2024 date was unrealistic.

This article was updated to include a statement from President Trump. 

From The Epoch Times

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